I was at UW-Madison during those "interesting" years. I was able to attend college via a generous scholarship through the NROTC. Following my graduation in January, 1970 with a degree in journalism, I was destined to go directly into the Navy. I did so, serving two tours in Vietnam.

However, the lottery was a memorable day/night and morning after. I came from a small county in northern Wisconsin. Whether my number would have been 3 or 300, the draft would have caught up with me. I was No. 2 (birthday April 24), and that was a cause for celebration. I remember the bar where we started drinking, but the march down State Street will be forever lost in a fog. Being No. 2, whenever the cry went up for lottery numbers, I was always the winner, and the beer was free for me.

My brother had a mcuh higher number but he was soon on his way to Fort Leonardwood and 2 1/2  years in the Army. Crashing in three helicopters, not being able to eat rice for 30 years, hitting every deer he ever shot at since those sniper days, and surviving, he brought a sense of reason and soberness to me. Even though we were at times less than 50 miles apart in the war zone, it still took mail about six weeks to reach either of us–usually more.

I visited, read and pondered the names on the Vietnam Memorial on the Langlade County courthouse lawn in February, 2008 while in Antigo. I knew those guys. They lived and laughed and breathed right next to me in school. Even though we dont’t see many of our graduating classmates, it was sad to know I could never talk with those guys even if I wanted.

Yes, I remember the lottery, and even though it did not determine whether I served in the military, it impacted many of my friends. Their stories will prove how the military shaped lives. Being in the Navy taught me how much I was capable of doing, and that nothing was impossible. Those were great years and not-so-great years all rolled together.